Rorate Caeli

Incarnation Week - Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ

This is a very special week: starting with Saint Joseph (whose day was yesterday, with liturgical celebration transferred to this Monday) and ending with one of the most special days of the year, the Annunciation of Our Lady, anniversary of the most important event in History: the Incarnation of God. And this year, the Saturday (which ordinarily is already Our Lady's day, though not during the Sabbatical ferias of Lent) of Lady Day will be followed by the happiest Sunday in Lent, Lætare Sunday.

This very joyful week, filled with Christmas joy (appropriate for a blog called Rorate Cæli), in the midst of the most solemn season of the year, will also be very agitated in the Eternal City, culminating with the Friday consistory. During this special "Incarnation" week, it is appropriate to meditate on the greatest mysteries of our salvation story - using as our guide that most beautiful Catholic devotion, the Angelus.

First Day - Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ ("The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary"): In mense autem sexto, missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ, cui nomen Nazareth, ad virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David : et nomen virginis Maria. (St Luke, i, 26-27: "And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary").

Saint Thomas gathers the comments of the Fathers:


Saint Basil (on Isaias): Heavenly spirits do not come to us on their own will, it is God who sends them when our utility demands it; because their occupation is to contemplate the light of Divine Wisdom ("The angel Gabriel was sent...")

Saint Gregory the Great (Homily 34 on the Gospels): It is not any angel, but the archangel Gabriel who is sent to the Virgin Mary. It did not belong, in fact, than to the greatest of angels to come announce the greatest of events. Holy Scripture gives him a special and significant name, he is called Gabriel, which means "strength of God". It was reserved to the strength of God, then, to announce the birth of God of Hosts, of the Strong in Battle who would triumph over the powers of the air. [...]

Saint Bede, the Venerable: God begins most admirably the work of our reparation by sending an angel to a virgin to be consecrated by a Divine birth, because the devil had also begun the work of our fall by sending a serpent to the woman to seduce her through the spirit of pride. [...]

Saint Jerome (sermon on the Assumption): It is proper that an angel is sent to a Virgin; because virginity has always been closely linked to the angels. Verily, to live in the flesh while disobeying the inspirations of the flesh is not the life of the earth, it is the life of heaven.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea (The Gospel according to Saint Luke)

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